On Wednesday evening, the Davis Downtown held their candidates forum, attended by all nine candidates. The forum was held at the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame.
They had four rounds of questions where the candidates answered for two minutes each, and these included one opportunity for rebuttal. Each candidate was once again asked a different question.
The Vanguard has broken these up by round.
Ezra Beeman – Regarding Cannabis dispensaries as a potential source of revenue and whether such revenue will meet expectations, how do you ensure that these businesses are properly monitored and audited to make sure that sales are properly documented record?
That seems like a two part question – I was expecting you to head to the direction of what can we do to try get the targets that we set for this new segment of business. But instead you ask, how are we going to ensure they’re correctly monitored and controlled so that their revenue is fully reported.
The monitoring of sales to me is not any different than any other occupation. I don’t really see the sales of cannabis any different to alcohol. I see it slightly differently – we were actually commenting on Picnic Day this year, it went off a lot better. Someone I was talking to made the observation that that might – there may have been a role of cannabis in this to make people drink less and smoke more, just trying to get home without eating too much.
I think it’s a big opportunity for the city. Davis is one of the few cities that has gotten its act together. I think it’s important, me as an economist, and a management consultant, I would like to be sure that we have distributed the outlets in a way that it’s going to ensure we get the most amount of revenue out of them and that we manage any safety risks with a cash business.
I’m really hoping that the state comes up with a way that we can actually bank this industry and that we don’t lose a lot of cash. To me that’s the only real safety risk I can think of.
Gloria Partida – You supported the construction of a parking structure at the Amtrak lot – this is considered one of the least optimal locations. Please explain why you chose this location.
The reason that that lot came to mind is because it is next to the Amtrak station. Because we have a lot of conversations around trying to create a transportation hub. There are a large number of commuters that are leaving Davis to go to other places. There are a lot of people who commute to the Bay Area, there’s a lot of people who get onto Amtrak even to go to Sacramento.
It made sense to me that we could really facilitate people parking next to where it was that they were going to be leaving. I would love for us to having parking in another place that is further from downtown where we have most of our congestion.
The other reason that I thought that that would be a good spot is because I would really hope that we would block off some of the streets in downtown so that we don’t have so much movement of cars driving through the downtown area. If we built another parking structure, people would stop trying to park right in front of the stores that they’re trying to go to.
At Arden Fair, you can walk from one end of the mall to the other and it’s just as far as walking from one end of downtown to another. I really hope that someday we can make it so that people are more encouraged to walk through downtown rather than trying to park in front of the places that they’re trying to get to.
Larry Guenther – At a previous forum you explained three things you would like to do if elected to council. You stated three issues – increasing revenues, decreasing expenses, and sunshine and happiness. Which revenues would you use to increase revenue and how would you decrease expenses?
I’m also going to add a third one, the relationship with the university is obviously a huge issue – that relationship needs to improve. You improve relationships by talking to people and listening to them and working together through stuff.
Reducing costs – a lot of the costs we’ve had have been put upon us from the state, from the CalPERS system. That doesn’t mean we don’t have them, it means that we’ve got to deal with them. Our big unfunded liabilities are retirement costs, health care costs, infrastructure maintenance. We can reduce some of the healthcare pension costs by reducing people but not a great deal – I don’t think.
We’ve had some cuts of people and we like our parks, we like our services and people saying well roads aren’t getting paved, the parks aren’t getting mowed, cuts – there’s only so much money in the budget.
Reorganizing people in city office – those were made by attrition so they weren’t done by an organized pattern. Reorganizing work to go to the proper people – reorganizing departments so that they’re taking on the right tasks.
Increasing revenue is business. We need to make the business climate better. We need to stop getting in our own way of success. We need to reassess the issues that businesses have to deal with – we still want our services, but we want to make sure that our policies for those services don’t get in our way.
Linda Deos – What does successful economic development in our downtown look like? Name the three most important things that need to happen to encourage and support it.
The first thing that we need to do is get people down here. And having people down here can happen through housing, housing where people come here. It can be bringing people down here through transportation modes, be it in their own vehicles and having a place for them to park, coming in on other transportation modes, be it bus, Lyft, Uber, bicycle perhaps, as I look around this room. We need bodies here for the economic development to happen.
We need to make it possible for businesses to want to be here, to want to flourish here, that they’re going to need to see that there’s a market here for them to come to.
I was just at the Downtown Davis display at the church there, and they’re saying we’re not going to get the big folks here at this point because we don’t have the population base for it. The Apple Stores aren’t going to come here. They’re already in Sacramento. So we have to look at other types of things, the future is looking to be, entertainment venues, food venues, theater venues, art venues, and that is what is so wonderful about our downtown – it’s already made to do that.
We already have the space for that – I can just imagine looking at a couple of our alleyways and looking back behind where Peet’s is and going through (those) walkways and expanding that and lighting that up and having art in that space. Making it inviting for people to come into and wanting to come into.
One thing I’ve been thinking about is the month of July is often the time when students are gone and I kind of see this as a townee month. When we can come back to downtown and be part of the downtown – because we have felt that we couldn’t because of crowds and such – let’s reclaim that. Let’s have a townee festival, let’s close down that E Street Mall, let’s do things where we all want to be there.
Luis Rios – You said you hear city council members talking about innovations centers, but we need to figure out downtown. It sounds like you think downtown Davis is broken – what in downtown is broken, how do you plan on fixing it, and what is your plan to promote businesses coming here?
I continue with my family, we’re here at the downtown on weekends. We actually go to the restaurants. Many of you are in this building to spend money. How do you support the local economy? We’ve talked about economy development, bringing in new business, supporting local business, you do it by not clicking at home on Amazon.com.
I come here, I meet lots of families, young families with young kids, because they hear about the quality schools in Davis. Davis is an education town. Keep that in mind. Lot of time I go and – many of you long time residents know that there used to be a State Market here, that there used to be a pharmacy here in downtown, we need a locally owned grocery store, we need a pharmacy down here, we need an urgent care center for the seniors and students within the area in walking distance that can give them services.
We need to partner with UC Davis so we can have a UC Davis satellite center here in downtown 24/7 so they can come in and study. That takes relationships.
I grew up in Winters. I know former mayors of Winters. There are trustees at Solano College. We need to partner with Solano College…
When Gary May arrived at the airport, you know who was waiting? Darrell Steinberg. Now he’s doing Aggie Square. We’re missing out, folks.
I met Gary May and the administration. You’ve got to elect the right people for this council.
My daughter is four now, I hope when she gets out of high school, we all will be in a better situation. I was born in Davis, this is my home, that’s why I’m here.
Mark West – Council recently passed the aggressive panhandling ordinance and well as adding two public restrooms to downtown. How can we work together to address issues related to homelessness in our community?
Homelessness is a big issue for us across the city, but especially downtown. It takes all of us working together to make a difference. The city can do something, but the community and the businesses must get involved to do something as well.
First thing we need to do is all of us need to treat people with respect. If you take the time to talk to the homeless, many of them will explain what their situation is and how you can help them – other than just assuming that they’re here being vagrant with nothing to do, find out. Start working with them. Our businesses can be supportive of them. It doesn’t mean you have to allow them to sprawl on the sidewalk and in front of you, you can start talking to them, working with them, and taking them to places where its more appropriate than for them to be hanging out.
It takes all of us working together to make a difference. It’s not an easy problem. It’s not going to go away overnight. There is no silver bullet for how we deal with homelessness. It’s something that we just have to accept and part of our community and how we need to bring them into the community – treat them with respect and allow them to continue a healthy life. I think the city needs to be a part of it, I think the businesses need to be a part of it, and I believe the entire community needs to be a part of it too.
Dan Carson – rebuttal
I agree very much with what Mark said. A lot of my time working at the legislative analyst’s office in Sacramento, I was the lead for our office either on mental health programs and substance abuse programs. We know that there’s at least a subset of the homeless living on the street who would accept and would agree to treatment in the right setting. The problem is that a lot of our safety net system is set up in Woodland and West Sac. There is an effort underway to create clinic space in our town, potentially at the A Street offices that the county has. I think that could be a great opportunity to get some folks moving onto a better life. The other part of it that’s going to be critical is for folks to be able to get treatment while they’re in a stable situation. It’s not going to be easy to get folks to progress while they’re sleeping in a tent and worrying about whether somebody next to them is going to bash their head in and steal their bicycle parts. If we can get them into transitional housing, and there’s a project for 60 units, it’s in the process, I think that we could make progress on this issue. Nobody can promise you that we’re going to solve the homelessness problem, there are forces at work that are bigger than all of us. But I think there are some constructive steps that we can take that could make progress on this issue.
Luis Rios – rebuttal
One of the reasons I put myself out there last October is the homelessness situation with people without shelter. My son’s a Boy Scout. We did an article on homelessness and he asked a lot of questions about why people hold signs outside of Safeway, Save Mart, here in downtown. Why people are sleeping along the sidewalk. Why people are sleeping along I-80. That says something about Davis right now. When I was in the 80s at UC Davis, it was a different era and it’s been ongoing in the homelessness crisis I think. I think we need new leadership, honestly. I think the current council has been struggling with making certain decisions. I’ve heard you loud and clear downtown. I know you are not happy when you come in in the morning and what you find at your front door. People defecate, urinate, they leave garbage. Davis is compassionate and we care, but the city – your leaders, our leaders – we’re not delivering. It’s time to stop having forums and talk about feedback. We need to be intentional and proactive. West Lake plaza, that shopping center over there, second floor, it’s way empty, I heard somebody say, why don’t we leverage property owners – it’s vacant for years, why don’t we use some of that space for homeless folks? Well maybe the business doesn’t want homeless folks upstairs – wow – is that Davis? It’s up to you. We need public support to get this going otherwise we’re here, we’re all in this together.
Mary Jo Bryan – rebuttal
The homeless I know is a big problem for downtown. But we have Davis Community Meals, we have Bill Pride who has been here for twenty years, we have a proposal out there for a homeless shelter called Paul’s Place that is going through the process, but doesn’t have funding yet. But it’s got a plan and it’s a plan that includes a permanent housing in very small housing. A building with two stories for permanent housing. A second story for transitional housing to help people get to a permanent place. Then the ground floor is for services. We have churches who, every year, put homeless folks in their community rooms to help them out. I think that Davis has some real wonderful people that really want to do something and I really would hope that you would learn more about this Paul’s Place and when it comes up we might make that a community project. It would be built right on the current shelter where the land is already owned, so that land is not an issue. It’s just building the project – I think it sounds like a wonderful way to help homeless people to become people within homes.
Gloria Partida – rebuttal
I’ve worked for the state for six years and I’ve worked directly with the homeless for a long time. In general, I’ve just done a lot to work with people who are the most vulnerable in the community. What I see is that downtown is particularly worried about this problem because it affects people’s experiences. They come downtown and don’t want to be confronted by the decline of humanity. I think that there are things that we can do that will alleviate that problem. We can work with the county – I know that the county did some great things in West Sacramento to house people. You do have to house people first before you can give them services. There are studies that show that people who are housed first and then given services, they are more likely to not return to the streets. I think we really need to follow that model. I agree that Paul’s Place is something that we should all support. I also am really a proponent of giving meters – you need to look at what is causing the problem. Why are people panhandling downtown when they can go to community meals and get food – people will offer food to people rather than give money. But people want money just like you and I want money because they need purchasing power. You can’t buy something with a sandwich. The problem is not just coming from the homeless, it’s coming from the people who are giving these people money – that’s why they’re downtown because this is where the money is. If you can provide giving meters, so people feel good about giving the money, which is what they’re doing and the homeless can go to a location that’s outside of downtown and collect a portion of that money and the rest of it can go to social services, I think that that would help.
Mary Jo Bryan – On your campaign flyer, you listed you oppose parking meter installation. The Downtown Parking Task Force recommended paid parking. This was unanimously approved by the current city council. Which best practices and data are you relying on to supplant the work of this task force?
When paid parking went into the 3rd St. parking lot, I never went back. It’s too difficult to handle. It’s too time consuming. I’m looking for parking meters on the streets. I’m looking to come downtown and want people to be able to enjoy coming to downtown and I don’t want to put restrictions on it. If you put parking meters or paid parking at parking lots – you’ve got to make it very convenient for people to use.
Many of us are not that computer tech or iPhone tech to figure out how you can buy a pass before you go downtown and find that parking spot. I just want to make it really simple for people to come down, because I want people downtown, I want them to enjoy downtown and I think parking meters, particularly on the streets, would be a hindrance to that because you’d be using a credit to do that parking, not 25 cents that we’re all used to doing.
I said that because I felt it wasn’t needed in regards to the first part of bringing people to downtown Davis. Downtown is a wonderful place to be but the more restrictions that you put on it the harder it is for people to come downtown.
I would like to see peripheral parking that would be free for people to spend much more time downtown without having to pay for parking, or having parking validated like we used to do. I’d like to make it more convenient for people to come downtown, not less convenient.
Eric Gudz – rebuttal
Here’s what we’ve got going on with parking downtown – we’ve got anywhere from 20, 25, 30 percent of the traffic downtown that is solely being generated by people looking for parking. We have a mismatch of parking management in downtown – we have an insufficient number of a particular classes of permits. We have students who are parking in the downtown on the edge of town, they are pushing out spots that can be used for patrons, customers, clients, folks that are enjoying restaurants. We have employees that are doing the two-hour employee shuffle… So we have a serious parking management issue in downtown Davis. We do need a little bit of supply. This is something I talk to the chair of the bar and restaurant committee a lot over the last few months. We need a little bit of supply but what we really need to focus on is working on the management of our parking. (1) We need to be looking for solutions such as park and ride for our employees who are coming in from outside of Davis… having solutions for them so that they’re not parking in the customers’ spots, that’s one thing. (2) Paid parking is actually the reality, if you actually look at the data, you actually look at the work that’s happened from Professor Donald Schoop, the actual cost of a parking spot is $9 an hour, if you’re not paying that, someone else is paying that. So by putting a price point – the trick is that you have to put a price point that ensures 85 percent occupancy in those parking spots, that way when you’re looking for a parking spot downtown, you’re going to find one within 30 seconds. So you adjust those price points to make sure that you effectively manage the parking supply properly. You can move your employees to incentivize additional spots to open up, you can create alternatives for transportation to be managed on campus so that the students will not park downtown. And you can increase the proliferation of the number of X-permits in your neighborhoods.
(We will include the first round answers for Dan Carson and Eric Gudz in Round Two).
—David M. Greenwald reporting